Modern Cars Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks which could Kill Thousands

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Mercedes made the autonomous car a step closer to reality and Germany’s Baden-Württemberg state was the first to give a go-ahead the to German manufacturer to use the autonomous parking function in Mercedes Benz Museum’s parking garage which would need no human intervention.
The automotive technology is moving towards driver less cars, connected cars and more from the Sci-fi movies we watched a decade ago, a new report that emerged states that all advanced cars with Internet connections to their safety-critical systems are apparently vulnerable to fleet-wide hacks.

Los Angeles based Consumer advocacy group “Consumer Watchdog” has warned that the automakers are rolling out vehicles that are increasingly vulnerable to Cyber Attacks. According to the report titled “Kill Switch: Why Connected cars can be killing machines and how to turn them off,” these cars are vulnerable to hackers and in the event of a mass cyber attack it could endanger the lives of thousands of people.

According to the report,” The troubling issue for industry technologies is that these vehicles’ safety-critical systems are being linked to the internet without adequate security and with no way to disconnect them in the event of a fleet-wide hack.”

The report is based on a 5-month study with the help of more than 20 whistle-blowers from within the car industry and it stated that the Industry executives were pushing ahead in deploying the technology in new vehicles despite being aware of the risk attached to it.

All aspects of a car like starting the engine, starting air conditioning, checking on its location can be controlled from a smartphone which leads to the caveat that If these functions can be performed from a smartphone then they anybody can do the same over the internet.

​According to Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, “Connecting safety-critical systems to the internet is inherently dangerous design and American car makers need to end the practice or Congress must step in to protect our transportation system and our national security.” 

Representatives from several of the leading car companies could not be reached for comment but Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the leading advocacy group for the auto industry suggested that the report was aimed at hyping the cybersecurity event in Las Vegas.

In a statement to AFP Gloria stated that Cyber Security is a priority for every industry using computer systems including automobiles and Automakers are taking preventive measures that include designing vehicles from the start and adding cybersecurity measures to both old and new models.

Gloria also added that the customers must be vigilant to avoid falling prey to hackers.

“Consumers should exercise good cyber hygiene in all they do, including properly pairing a phone to a car, deleting phone data from rental cars (if paired), and being active in doing the maintenance and updates as requested for phones and vehicles,” she said. 

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